Want to visit a castle? Germany has you covered.
There are over 25,000 castles in Germany today. Some are only ruins, but many of them are well-preserved and home to museums, restaurants, and even hotels open to the public.
The country is filled with castles because, during the Middle Ages, Germany was divided into many small, competitive feudal states and principalities. These unstable times encouraged the construction of secure and fortified castles in Germany.
There are so many castles to visit in Germany you might be overwhelmed with options. Here we offer six of the best castles in Germany.
In charming Bavaria, 73 miles southwest of Munich, there lies one of the most famous castles in the world: Neuschwanstein was built in 1869 by mad King Ludwig II. It was constructed as a fantastic private summer retreat born straight from his imagination, not for defense but for pleasure. However, the king never got to enjoy it; he mysteriously died by drowning in nearby Lake Starnberg.
In addition to its strange origins, the castle is a wonder. There are turrets and even flush toilets and heating. Neuschwanstein is also an homage to German composer Richard Wagner, with many scenes from his operas depicted in the interior. In fact, Neuschwanstein shares the same name as the castle in Wagner's opera Lohengrin.
Address: Alpseestrasse 12, 87645 Hohenschwangau
Admission: €13 for adults, €12 reduced, kids under 18 free
In the West of Germany between Trier and Koblenz lies the Eltz Castle. Hidden in a small valley in the middle of a dense forest, the castle has been owned and lived in by the same family since the 12th century.
A guided tour allows visitors to gaze at the original furniture and art collection, with armor in the Knights' Hall dating back to the 16th century. Eltz Castle is relatively unknown and can be pleasantly uncrowded compared to other castles in Germany.
Address: Burg Eltz, 56294 Münstermaifeld
Admission: €10 for adults, €6.50 for students and kids
"Germany's Versailles" was a summer retreat for Berlin royalty. Created for Frederick the Great and named after the French phrase "sans souci," which translates to "without worries," this was indeed an idyllic playland for the rich and powerful.
Smaller than its French inspiration, it is still an impressive Rococo palace with even more magical grounds. Terraced gardens lead down to the Great Fountain and on to the Temple of Friendship, Chinese House, and 70km of walkways. Sanssouci and its gardens are protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Address: Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam
Admission: €12 for adults, €8 for discounted
In southwest Germany about 57 miles south of Frankfurt, you'll find the ruins of the once majestic castle of Heidelberg. The castle used to be a Gothic masterpiece but was destroyed several times over the centuries.
Looking up from the town, the ruins dominate the skyline. Once you mount the hill, be sure to look back at another epic view of the city and bridge spanning the river.
The castle is partly rebuilt with different architectural styles clearly identifiable among the ruins. For example, the Ottheinrich Building is one of the earliest palace buildings of the German Renaissance.
Address: Schloss Heidelberg, 69117 Heidelberg
Admission: € 7 for adults
The Wartburg Castle lies in the east of Germany, close to Eisenach, and is perched over the forests of Thuringia. Built in 1067, it is one of the oldest and best-preserved Romanesque castles in all of Germany.
Legendary guests stayed there, among them poet Walther von der Vogelweide whose work it inspired, which in turn inspired Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser. Elisabeth of Hungary's charitable acts here led to her sainthood. However, its most famous temporary resident was church reformist Martin Luther who lived here while he translated the Bible into German. Visitors can see the very room he stayed in - complete with the ink stain from when he threw an inkwell at the devil.
Since 1999, the Wartburg Castle has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Address: Auf der Wartburg 1, 99817 Eisenach
Admission: €9 for adults, €5 for students and children
This is one of the country's largest Baroque palaces. Just outside of Stuttgart, its grounds are as lovely as its interior with a magnificent Blühendes Barock (Baroque garden) complete with lake.
Inside, the Baroque grandeur continues. There is a Barockgalerie (Baroque Gallery), Keramikmuseum (Ceramics Museum), and Modemuseum (Fashion Museum). To entertain the kiddies, Kinderreich is a modern, interactive museum where children can finally touch things.
To see the palace in a more playful setting, visit during the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival. Billed as the largest pumpkin festival in the world, hundreds of thousands of pumpkins are decorated and used as decoration with fun events like a pumpkin boat race and giant pumpkin smash. Another special event is the annual Christmas market.
Address: Schlossstraße 30, 71634 Ludwigsburg
Admission: €7 for adults, €3.50 for discounts